Pinch, pinch! Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Although you’ll never find me wearing it, the color green is truly one of my favorites. When it comes to food, I take green as a sign of both flavor and freshness. Matcha tea, leafy veggies, or garden herbs are always welcome additions in my recipes, and for today’s post an emerald-green head of savoy cabbage takes center stage.
The only thing I’ll be pinching this year are the roped crusts on the edges of these rustically packaged meat and potato stuffed pastries. I fell in love with these pie pockets during my travels in and around England a few years back. Portable and hearty, pasties are where traditional English cuisine meets on-the-go convenience. This brings us to the inevitable discussion of high tea vs. afternoon tea. Which of these meals would you serve pasties at? Well, the honest answer is that if they are small and cute enough, you could get away with serving them for afternoon tea. But, strictly speaking, pasties are traditionally served for high tea, also known as meat tea.
High tea isn’t called high because it’s high class (whatever that means…), it’s called high tea because it’s eaten on a high table. This substantial meal is like dinner or supper for the working class. On the other hand, afternoon tea, also known as low tea, is an elegant, late afternoon refreshment enjoyed by the wealthy. Low tables, like coffee tables, are typical of this meal, as are the crustless sandwiches and pretty cakes that make the experience distinctly lavish.Because they are so delicious, pasties have managed to bridge the gap between high tea and afternoon tea. But make no mistake…anytime a food item is homely, humble, and about the size of your head, it’s a good sign that it might be better served at high tea. When it comes to afternoon tea, miniature (and elegant) is generally the name of the game.
A tea, salad, or dessert plate, about 7″ in diameter is the ideal pasty-making tool. With the help of store-bought pie crust, these pasties are surprisingly easy to make. The hardest thing is making sure that the filling ingredients are completely cool before stuffing the pasties.
This is an ideal recipe to use if you have post St. Patty’s day leftovers. Using my hands, I like to remove some of the fat and gristle from the meat as I shred it. Instead of boiling the cabbage, I lightly sautée it in a separate pan so that I can control moisture and prevent the pasties from getting soggy crusts later. As for the potatoes, leave them a bit chunky for some textural contrast.In an ideal world, these would be eaten as a picnic lunch on rolling hills of soft green grass, with a chilled thermos of brisk Irish Breakfast tea nearby. Try eating these pasties the way that Cornish miners used to, where you hold the twisted pastry edge like you would a slice of watermelon. Simply enjoy the filled part of the pie and toss out the crusty rope of pie crust when you’re finished. When it comes to pasties, dingy hands are never a problem, and that’s how you know you are having high tea!
Makes 6 large pasties.
1 cup mashed potatoes, made to your liking
1 cup sautéed cabbage
1 cup corned beef, cooked and shredded
1/3 cup green onion, sliced
2 packages refrigerated pie crust
1 egg, mixed with 1 tsp of water (to make egg wash)
tea, salad, or dessert plate, about 7″ in diameter
small bowl of water
rolling-pin (for rolling last 2 crusts)
2 large baking sheets fitted with parchment
1.) Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. On a large work surface lightly dusted with bench flour, cut out one pasty crust by placing a tea dish upside-down, over one of the flattened pie crust rounds. Cut out a 7″ circle of pie crust. Repeat this step to make a total of 4 pie crust circles. For the last 2 circles, re-roll the dough scraps to a 1/8″ in thickness, then cut out the last 2 circles of pie crust.
2.) Fill each pie crust with 2 rounded Tbsp each of the mashed potato, sautéed cabbage, and shredded corned beef. Place the filling on one half of the circle, leaving a 1″ border. Scatter some green onion on the filling. Now, with water, lightly moisten the edge of the pie crust circle surrounding the filling (half of the circle). Fold the unfilled side of the pie crust round over to meet the other wetted edge to create a half-moon, filled pasty. Pinch the edges firmly using your fingers, or use a fork to create a crimped edge. Repeat this step a total of 6 times to create 6 pasties.
3.) Transfer the finished pasties over to a large baking sheet. You will place 3, evenly spaced apart, on each sheet. Use a fork to poke 3 sets of holes atop the surface of each pasty. Brush the tops of the pasty generously with egg wash.